If Your Family Member Goes Missing

31 Mar

St. George News spent many hours covering the story of Kim Shields, the missing mother of two from Spanish Fork. Without getting emotionally attached, we worked hard to uncover every detail we thought might help the reader understand the situation. Why? Because readers who get involved are more alert and if they ever saw Kim or her car, they would have been more likely to notice and call the police.

Kim was found in California after five or six days, safe and with a younger employee. At that time, we wrapped up our story, wished her family the best and left them alone to heal.

Our job was done. Finding Kim was the singular goal. That was accomplished. At this point, people want all kinds of answers, and my answer to them is, let the family heal. If charges are filed, we will do our best to update you. In the meantime, we are moving onto other matters that the community should or does care about.

Since Kim has been found, many have speculated whether she should be receiving a bill from the state of Utah. Well, first I would like the state of Utah to prove, really prove how much they spent looking for her. Do you know what it is like trying to convince police departments to look for an adult who has the ability to leave on their own free will?

But regardless, I would rather pay to have the police department look for someone who may or may not be in danger, than to pay to have them investigate and clean up graffiti, arrest some dirt bag for domestic violence or stop a teenage drinking party. I want the police doing those things, too, don’t get me wrong. But do we charge the teens because 5 police officers had to come to the house and send them all home? We should.

Why is it that when someone goes missing but turns out safe, that we are willing to throw her in the fire and say “send her a bill?” I look at the arrests every day and see people who should be paying that bill. Let’s charge every criminal who has a warrant because an officer had to hunt them down. I would love to see that bail amount: Wasting an officer’s time $250.

Can you imagine what is was like for Jacob Shields? Take a moment and imagine your loved one calling to say “Coming home soon” and never showing up. Would you be frantic? What if the police said, “Sorry there is nothing we can or will do?” If my family member was missing, I would do everything possible to find them, everything possible to know that they were safe.

Was Kim wrong in taking off and not calling her family? Absolutely. But take a moment to think about what you would do if that was your family. Sometimes, a little help from the media can go a long way. Maybe knowing that someone is looking for you can snap that family member into reality to say, “Whoa I better call home.” Maybe having your name in the newspaper can make your “travel partner” go, “Hey I don’t want to be blamed for this. You need to call someone and tell them you’re safe.”

Now that she has been found, I hope she gets the help she needs and I hope her daughters are able to heal. I hope the public will allow that to happen and I hope we can focus our efforts on the next person who needs our help.

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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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